written by Wayne Brown
If you are among those fortunate enough to have spent time in Spain, you are likely to instantly align with our heading.
The country is so rich in history, culture, landmarks and scenery. Then there’s the spoken language – magnificent! Whilst the locals speaking speed makes it an impossibility for someone with as little linguistic ability as myself to comprehend, merely listening to the words flow from the lips is no less beautiful.
And reports that we are approaching 500 million people globally speaking this wonderful language today, is an unexpected, but pleasant surprise.
During this short Spanish tour we will visit two of the main cities.
Madrid and Barcelona
However, as you may note from the above map, Spain is blessed with many beautiful, well known cities each with its own unique character and slice of history. Valencia on the eastern coast, Sevilla to the south and Santiago to the north west to name but a handful.
World leader in elevators/person & people/apartment …
In addition, a recent survey released showed that Spain tops the list of countries with the greatest number of elevators per 1000 persons coming in @ a whopping 19.8. The next closest being Italy with 14.7 units / 1000 persons.
Couple that with 65% of the Spanish population living in apartments and it starts to make sense. Albeit the country only has two buildings (both in Madrid) which make the top 20 in Europe’s tallest building list.
Having recently attended a Sales development workshop in Madrid I was presented with the opportunity to explore the countryside and as a result, I’m happy to have this chance to digress from the norm and play the role of tour guide for both Madrid and Barcelona.
The Coaches favourite Madrid landmarks …
So first for the touristy bit. The cities here in Spain are so enjoyable that I feel compelled to share something from a visitor’s perspective offering a very brief guide should you be planning a holiday here. So, if you just want the industry info skip ahead in each city to the heading “… attractions for elevator-escalator diehards”.
I’m an avid enjoyer of the whole Starbucks experience and for this reason you could be forgiven if thinking that I may not enjoy Madrid as much as other cities. On the contrary my friends, it’s all in the approach and mindset.
Strolling through the narrow historic streets lends itself to the desire of exploring the surroundings and the fact that there isn’t a Starbucks on every second corner just seems adds to the thrill of the hunt, especially after concluding the search with a positive outcome.
Not to say there are no Starbucks in Madrid, it is just they have arrived late to the party and not yet as plentiful as other many other cosmopolitan cities globally.
During a recent trip and an early morning hunt around the streets between my hotel and Plaza Major, I was handsomely rewarded in finding this quaint little Starbucks sitting on one outer corner of the Plaza.
In this particular café, seating is scarce, the staff are friendly, food and coffee acceptable. The relief visible on the faces of almost all patrons as they cross over threshold of the small wooden entrance, PRICELESS!
I can imagine my own expression, as I waited patiently for the 7am opening bell. The wait was worthwhile as I was greeted with a warm inviting smile and friendly “hola” by the barrister.
The abundance of Madrid landmarks is overwhelming ….
Madrid is so packed with sightseeing and historic landmarks that the locals are spoilt for choice.
Aside from eating pleasures which encircle the perimeter of Plaza Major, the immediate and greater surrounding areas (perhaps sitting largely with-in the so called Golden Triangle) are also over-supplied with must visit locations.
Immediately outside on one corner of the Plaza, is the first on this list. The Mercado de San Miguel, a compact glass building crammed full of vendors offering the freshest and finest food I’ve found anywhere.
Fruit, vegetables, cheese, seafood, meats of every description, drinks – it’s a foodies treasure trove of delights and based on the number of people eagerly clambering over each other to sample the spoils or to place their orders any night of the week, it’s clear that the place has a great reputation and is extremely well supported.
A short 10 min stroll downhill from the Plaza is the intersection of Puerta del Sol, one of the main meeting and shopping areas in Madrid. The bear and the cherry tree, a landmark with-in this location.
Supported by metro stop, department stores, clothing and more food merchants offering great jamon (ham). Continue walking another 5 mins past del Sol and you reach yet another plaza La Gran Via, complete with Starbucks, cinemas and great book stores.
Manzanares River Parklands and Retiro Park:
The completion of this hugely political river and freeway revamp has transformed the area into a very enjoyable family outting close to the heart of the city. Offering ample rest points and relaxing nature strips for the locals and visitors to escape the city confines with-out having to travel any distance. River Manzanares Madrid
However as great as this river location is, one of the treasures which is a must visit for everyone enjoying a park stroll is Retiro park.
Parque del Buen Retiro (“Park of the Pleasant Retreat”)
This inner city heavenly expanse of green, heavily treed, picturesque lake, amidst well maintained pathways is a destination for every visit I make.
Palaces & museums:
If history and art are your thing, then you’re in luck with very accessible grand palaces and churches, together with great art and artefacts on display in a variety of museums.
The enormous Royal Palace (or any of the other palace properties in or with-in an 80 kilometre radius of Madrid) are worth the effort to explore.
Beside the palace is Museo de la Catedral de la Almudena, a spectacular example of architecture and the money available to those of the Catholic faith.
With-in Europe one of my favourite museums is the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, showing casing predominantly Spanish art and sculptures, with famous works from Picasso and Dali on display.
A stroll across the road from the hotel where I normally reside.
And like many of the mega cities nowadays, the night life is where it all happens. In Madrid’s case it starts and finishes a little later than most however, but you will find enormous variety of nightclubs, bars, restaurants – some offering great food and drink, whilst others include the famous Flamingo dancers.
If you enjoy being entertained, find yourself a seat close to the dance floor and feel the energy and heat of the dancers.
Real & Athletica:
If you follow this little round ball game, then this is also a great city, hosting two of the most powerful football clubs in Spain and Europe – Real Madrid and Atletico. There’s little wonder that there is great rivalry between the two sides.
The elite versus the working class. And like other famous rivalries such as Manchester United and Manchester City in England and replicated in multiple other countries of Europe, the local city derby’s played out in Madrid each year brings the city to a stand-still.
Food glorious food: The perfect trio – a plate of finely sliced jamon to start proceedings, a seafood paella for the main and finished off with chocolate con churros.
Add a glass or two of your favourite vino, plus a good friend to share the experience and life just doesn’t get much better.
You’ll find this “luxury on the palette”, pretty much everywhere you care to look across this amazing city.
Madrid attractions for elevator-escalator diehards …
Approximate number of units (total for Madrid): 180,000 units
There are many important buildings but well known are the 4 towers resort composed by:
- Torre de Cristal @ 249 m
- Torre Cepsa @ 248 m
- Torre PwC @ 236 m
- Torre Espacio @ 230 m
At 249m Torre de Cristal is the tallest building and has the fastest elevators at 8m/s in the city. In the same avenue but some meters away Torre Picasso @ 156 m.
Main infrastructures projects at present:
- Madrid Nuevo Norte 10.500 new apartments in residential buildings and 3 new towers of 250m, 230 and 190m.
- Los Berrocales: In the east of the city will have 22.00 new apartments for resisential use.
- La Quinta Torre. New and in the 4 towers area, with height of 182 m.
- Canalejas Project Construcution of a luxury hotel in an protected building in the city centre.
The Coaches favourite Barcelona landmarks …
Architecture: Perhaps similar with many in our industry and not so surprising to those that know me, I have a genuine interest in buildings of all shapes and sizes, from initial design through to the finishing touches of construction.
And Barcelona offers its fair share of interesting buildings to support this passion. None more so, than those designed by the late and inspirational architect Antoni Gaudi. Scattered around the city are many of his master pieces.
His designs are so unique and internationally renowned, that tours are dedicated to visiting his landmarks. There are many of note but It’s not my purpose to become the tour guide here. For that you will need to include Barcelona on your bucket list of places to visit.
Instead I’ll showcase below just three which are remarkable, each for their own reasons.
- This is the most famous of Gaudí’s works. This church has been in construction since 1892, and it’s not expected to be finished until 2030. It featured heavily in Dan Brown’s latest book Origin.
- This is one of Gaudí’s main residential buildings and one of the most imaginative houses in the history of architecture. UNESCO recognized this building as World Heritage in 1984.
And using the opening exerpt from the linked Barcelona.com website – “A terrace with undulating mosaic benches offering an unforgettable view of Barcelona, the famous salamander, two modernist pavilions, an extraordinary garden.
The Park Güell is one of the most mythical places in Barcelona. The masterpiece of architect Antoni Gaudí is one of the city’s tourist attractions, but only part of the 17-hectare park is freely accessible.”
Other parks & city locations:
If you can drag yourself away from relaxing in the sun on a stretch of sandy coastline, then Barcelona also offers a huge central park – Park de la Ciutadella.
280,000 m 2 of green-lands. A breezy but relaxing alternative to the beach. Boasting musicians, picnic spots, areas to play sport or simply take a relaxing stroll.
Additional, there are numerous locations in and around the city for every visitor starting with Las Rambo Boulevard, the city’s main pedestrian street is packed with markets, cafes, restaurants, street artists and a plentiful supply of tourists.
The Magic Fountain show is another attraction very popular for it choreographed light and music display. If you’re into this type of thing then be sure to check for show dates and times.
Barcelona sits on the east coast of Spain and shares its beach line with the Baltic Sea. The coast north of Barcelona is called ‘El Maresme’ and offers some of the best beach locations.
However, for those not that adventurous, the good news is that you don’t need to travel away from the city to enjoy the sand and sea breeze. Positioned strategically on the Barcelona Boadwalk is the SPG’s 5 star W hotel.
This iconic hotel stands proudly but alone like a beacon to the ocean and those lucky enough to be a guest.
The boardwalk itself is a hive of activity offering beach sports, fitness groups, an ample supply of restaurants, marina ad fantastic blend of coastal scenery, tree lined pedestrian walking strips all mixing together to deliver that relaxing ambience for locals and visitors alike.
Possibly the most famous museum in Barcelona is one housing and displaying the 4000+ pieces of work produced by the artist. The pieces illustrate his affection and relationship with this city where he lived.
Additional to the artists works is the magnificent museum building itself – …….
The Picasso Museum occupies five palaces (large town houses) and first opened back in 1963. These 5 buildings are good examples of the medieval or gothic style in former centuries. The 5 buildings combine to create central courtyard which also accesses the museum.
Catalonian love of food
Fresh seafood galore (mariscos) on top of those delicacies offered in Madrid. The Catalonians are very serious about their food and the result is quite spectacular consisting for the most part of quite healthy cuisine.
Whilst paella is still a must have in Barcelona, there is a huge variety of seafood, red and white meats, alternate cuisines such as Italian Cannelloni, meatballs, pizzas, flans and gelatos, essentially something on offer to suit every palate.
As is traditional for the Spanish in general, lunch and dinner are done late by western standards around 2pm for lunch and dinner seldom before 8pm and most common starting around 9pm. For us visitors one secret is to grab a few tapas in between lunch and dinner, which is very common practice for the locals at one or more of many bars scattered across the city
Numerous fresh food markets to be found – one of the more popular being La Boqueria….
And great news for fellow Starbucks and coffee lovers in general, there must be something in the water or the air, but the flavours are particularly enjoyable.
Known as Barcelona it has become one of the most famous football clubs in the world and rounds out this Spanish powerhouse trio. With its roots dating back to 1899 the club has rightly become synonymous with Catalan culture and pride. Presently owned and operated by its supporters, it is hugely successful and wealthy club with incredible large following matched by a very large annual revenue.
Interesting stat – In 2018 Barcelona’s first team average annual salary has exceeded £10m.
The Camp Nou stadium which opened in 1957 seats close to 100,000 has been home to many of the European and well as local Spanish championship matches in recent decades. It was one of the main stadiums hosting the most matches in the 1982 World Cup. A city landmark attraction drawing visitors from worldwide to its grounds and museum.
Barcelona attractions for elevator-escalator diehards …
Barcelona has recently announced that it is working towards the becoming one of Europe’s leading SMART cities. That doesn’t translate into tall buildings however as only two stretch above the 150m mark.
In fact only 6 buildings with a height >100m have been constructed in Barcelona during the past 50 years.
Barcelona city has around of 60,000 units supporting a demography of 1.6 million people.
Barcelona province with around 140,000 units and a population of 5.6 million whilst the greater Catalonia region has approx. 180,000 units with 7.5 million inhabitants.
Barcelona infrastructure projects – such as metro and airport are worth noting as are the 150 outdoor elevator and escalators units which support many of the tourist locations around the city.
And to close ….
So that’s about a wrap on this article. Hope you enjoyed reading it?
My role is as the Coach and host of the site. You’ll find that in this blog site we have articles written by 4 different groups related to our elevator-escalator tribe. Each sharing details with our executives, from to their personal experience, insights and learnings.
Group 1: Our Legends (those that have served 30 years or more in the industry),
Group 2: Our Innovators (often lead by our younger generation (but not always) and are those helping shape the future.
Group 3: Our Cheque Writers (the clients that provide perspective to our thinking by guiding our direction).
Group 4: Myself as your coach – as the “travelling wilbury” of the tribe, sharing stories from various countries I visit and work in.
To email Wayne: email@example.com